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Gerrymander

Gerrymander is an American word that is a portmanteau, which is a word constructed by blending the sounds and meanings of two different words. We will examine the meaning of the word gerrymander, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Gerrymander is a verb which means to draw voting district boundaries in order to weaken the power of a certain faction or to strengthen the power of a certain faction due to political party affiliation. The term gerrymander is a portmanteau of the name Gerry and the word salamander. Elbridge Gerry, governor of Massachusetts in 1812 redrew voting district lines in order to benefit his political party. The Boston Gazette coined the word gerrymandering to describe this action, as the redistricting resembled a salamander when viewed on a map.  Credit for the term gerrymandering has been divided between the editors of the Boston Gazette, Nathan Hale, and Benjamin Russel and John Russell. Since the 1980s, gerrymandering has been illegal in the United States, though bringing a suit and proving its merits can be difficult. Related words are gerrymanders, gerrymandered, gerrymandering. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the British spelling jerrymander, though this is rarely seen.


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Examples

The truth and will of “We the People” has been violated by our politicians’s eagerness to gerrymander and create a supermajority for many years or decades to come. (The Journal Times)

But one of these justices, Anthony Kennedy, wasn’t sure quite how to fix the problem, and so he voted with the conservative justices to toss out a challenge to a Pennsylvania gerrymander—without closing the door to future lawsuits. (The Business Insider)

A big part of the increasing push for commissions and other redistricting reforms is the idea that these measures could root out gerrymandering — the partisan-inspired crafting of congressional district lines — and thereby increase competition and decrease partisanship in Congress. (The Washington Post)

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